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The Gothic Text (review)

The Gothic Text (review) Marshall Brown, e G Th othic Text Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 24,00 xxii + 280 pp. With e Th Gothic Text , Marshall Brown continues the provocative project (begun in his 991 1 study Preromanticism) of rereading literary history teleologically, though Brown’s concept of telos is emphatically not a single point of arrival from which n fi al judgments of value can be made, but rather a vector of thought aiming uncer - tainly into the future. Conjoining text and time in this fashion exposes unseen rela- tionships between texts, and it is Brown’s insistence on this perspective that makes e G Th othic Text so rewarding and suggestive. At the heart of this study lies the bold proposition that “Kant and the gothic together discovered a new dimension of human consciousness,” namely the con- frontation with reality-as-unknowable (ix). i Th s epistemological and psychological shift forced a split between phenomena and the thing-in-itself and thus opened the realm of the transcendental, at once governed by unseen laws and haunted by undisclosed monstrosities. e Th consequences of that split come to fruition in the work of Freud; indeed, part of Brown’s insight is that the form of the gothic itself anticipates his own extremely Lacanian lens. e Th r fi st two parts of Brown’s book place the r fi st gothic text, Horace Walpole’s e Th Castle of Otranto , in extended dialog with Kantian philosophy. e Th insights gathered from that intertext are neatly threaded through the attendant chapters in the book’s third and fourth sections, culminating in rereadings of Radclie ff and Mary Shelley. However, even if the body of his text begins and ends with English writers, Brown insists on the international character of the gothic and draws on French, German, and Russian examples, strengthening his claim that gothic litera- ture helps to inaugurate a signic fi ant change in Western thought. As if to under - score this continental scale, e Th Gothic Text ends with a postscript, co-written with Jane K. Brown, in which Goethe’s Fau is s tengagingly read as both the culmination of the gothic impulse and the mark of its circumscription. r Th oughout, in acces - sible and warm prose, Brown oe ff rs readings that challenge us to take the gothic seriously and to read philosophy imaginatively. a aron c handler u University of North Carolina–Greensboro 178 the co MP aratist 31 : 2700 http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Comparatist University of North Carolina Press

The Gothic Text (review)

The Comparatist , Volume 31 – May 29, 2007

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2007 the Southern Comparative Literature Association.
ISSN
1559-0887

Abstract

Marshall Brown, e G Th othic Text Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 24,00 xxii + 280 pp. With e Th Gothic Text , Marshall Brown continues the provocative project (begun in his 991 1 study Preromanticism) of rereading literary history teleologically, though Brown’s concept of telos is emphatically not a single point of arrival from which n fi al judgments of value can be made, but rather a vector of thought aiming uncer - tainly into the future. Conjoining text and time in this fashion exposes unseen rela- tionships between texts, and it is Brown’s insistence on this perspective that makes e G Th othic Text so rewarding and suggestive. At the heart of this study lies the bold proposition that “Kant and the gothic together discovered a new dimension of human consciousness,” namely the con- frontation with reality-as-unknowable (ix). i Th s epistemological and psychological shift forced a split between phenomena and the thing-in-itself and thus opened the realm of the transcendental, at once governed by unseen laws and haunted by undisclosed monstrosities. e Th consequences of that split come to fruition in the work of Freud; indeed, part of Brown’s insight is that the form of the gothic itself anticipates his own extremely Lacanian lens. e Th r fi st two parts of Brown’s book place the r fi st gothic text, Horace Walpole’s e Th Castle of Otranto , in extended dialog with Kantian philosophy. e Th insights gathered from that intertext are neatly threaded through the attendant chapters in the book’s third and fourth sections, culminating in rereadings of Radclie ff and Mary Shelley. However, even if the body of his text begins and ends with English writers, Brown insists on the international character of the gothic and draws on French, German, and Russian examples, strengthening his claim that gothic litera- ture helps to inaugurate a signic fi ant change in Western thought. As if to under - score this continental scale, e Th Gothic Text ends with a postscript, co-written with Jane K. Brown, in which Goethe’s Fau is s tengagingly read as both the culmination of the gothic impulse and the mark of its circumscription. r Th oughout, in acces - sible and warm prose, Brown oe ff rs readings that challenge us to take the gothic seriously and to read philosophy imaginatively. a aron c handler u University of North Carolina–Greensboro 178 the co MP aratist 31 : 2700

Journal

The ComparatistUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: May 29, 2007

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